By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jul 12, 2017 at 4:03 PM

Competition in the food retail market has increased dramatically in recent years. Traditional food retailers have faced fierce pressure from alternative channels including warehouse clubs, supercenters, drug stores, mass retailers and convenience stores, as well as online retailers and grocery delivery services. And we're beginning to see the fallout.

A statement released this week by Madison-based Brennan's Market indicates that the grocery will be closing all of its stores beginning Sept. 30.

The reason cited? Changing consumer habits and increased competition.

According to the release, the Brookfield store at 19000 W. Bluemound Rd. is in the process of being sold. However, there are no firm plans for the sale of the remaining properties in Madison, Monroe and Oconomowoc, nor the Brennan's Market cheese warehouse and packaging facility in New Glarus. All locations will remain open through September.


Frank Brennan opened his first road-side fruit stand in Monroe in 1942. By 1967, Brennan's market established its Madison location, building additional stores in Brookfield and Oconomowoc in 1988 and 2009. 

And for decades, the Brennan family and staff has concentrated their efforts on building personal relationships with its growers and producers to assure the best possible quality from harvest and production to delivery. That dedication played out in a dedication to personal visits and inspections at farms, orchards, vineyards, microbreweries and cheese factories across the U.S. and beyond. 

In 1967, Brennan’s Market expanded into Madison in 1988, into Brookfield and into Oconomowoc in 2009. And as the years wore on, Frank's son Skip took over managing the business. According to the release, the company was hit hard during the recession in 2008, but even as the economy rebounded, sales remained flat. The growth of competition and new options for consumers has made Brennan’s Market business model unsustainable.

"Although we’re all saddened by the decision to close our doors later this year, we are sincerely grateful for the generations of loyal customers and our incredible partners," noted Tim Culhane, general manager and owner of Brennan’s Market.

"Without our outstanding staff, we never would have achieved our high level of customer service, and we will be assisting them with job placement support this fall. We hope that all past employees and customers we’ve had the honor to serve over the years will stop in and visit through Septe. 30 and enjoy our final Chin Drippin’ Peach Season."

Brennan’s Market has five stores in Brookfield, Madison, Monroe and Oconomowoc, and owns a cheese warehouse and packaging facility in New Glarus.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.